The opportunities offered by change, the superpower of interdisciplinary teams and the importance of empathy are just some of the exciting topics we addressed in our interview with Cordula Witzgall, managing director of mimaco gmbh.
You called your company mimaco, which stands for micro macro competence. A very pithy claim that describes what lies at the heart of your corporate brand. Can you briefly outline for our readers what we are talking about here?
Our claim is to be “all you need in change”, which encapsulates our promise to our customers that we offer everything they need for the change they have in mind. We coined the word “mimaco”, which stands for micro macro competence.
That means: We think on a broad scale, and we work hard on the details. Our customers receive an all round service from an interdisciplinary team comprising psychologists, organizational developers, change managers, change communicators and graphics experts.
For our customers we are dependable, flexible and strong on implementation.
mimaco is on the case where change, restructuring and new moves are called for. This can often be a sensitive area: How do you proceed when for example you are dealing with a brand or a company that for generations has been associated with a particular tradition?
That’s true, we generally operate in a sensitive environment, given that our task is to support people in making changes, specifically in their role as employees at an enterprise that is changing.
There will always be something for them to “say farewell to”, something that it is OK to grieve for. When as you cited as an example, we are dealing with a traditional brand that has endured for generations, it is important to put the “old” and the “new” in context.
By that I mean specifically that we have to establish jointly with the customer, what worked well, how much of that do we want to retain in the new reality, and what do we want to do differently?
Change always brings surprises, unplanned moments. Due to the pandemic and the months of lockdown, companies have been confronted with challenges that no one could have previously imagined. Can you tell us a little about how you dealt with this in your own business?
The lockdown hit us very hard, as it did many other businesses. It was not only the Corona crisis that affected us, but the automobile crisis as well. And we are still far from emerging from these crises. Lockdown was simple to implement, and much faster. Restarting the economy and society takes time because insecurity is still widespread, and a lot of things have already changed while the lockdown was in force.
At mimaco I have a fantastic team of employees and a tight-knit network of partners (self-employed freelancers, who have become a familiar concept with the public since the crisis) who are extremely good at cooperation and dedicated team players.
The first thing I did was to put the business on a commercial footing that would allow us to survive the crisis as securely as possible. Everything I do is communicated constantly to the mimaco team, openly and transparently. I draw the strength I need from my own nature: I have a fundamentally optimistic, appreciative and approachable attitude toward life and people.
But there is one thing I must emphasize, which is that I was only able to position the business in this way because happily, we are fortunate enough to live and work in this country — in a strong and socially-oriented democracy with a stable political system that has evolved during 70 years of peace.
During these difficult times, were there also any positive developments in terms of the dynamics of your team, or indeed any unexpected experiences and events that you can take with you into the future?
As I just mentioned, I have a fantastic team at mimaco that is comprised of employees and a close network of partners who are strong on cooperation and dedicated team players. We have always had flexible working hours and offered the chance to work from home. Now since June, we are once again enjoying one day a week of face-to-face contact at the Isartor office because as we have discovered,
the office builds identity. The secret lies in a healthy mix.
You work with an interdisciplinary team, can we imagine that as a kind of “task force for change”, and if we can stick with this image, what is the superpower that this team possesses?
As I said at the beginning, we operate as an interdisciplinary team. So we are able to adapt 100% to suit the customer and the change that is envisaged. The kinds of changes we have supported include such as reorganization, process change and the introduction of more agile ways of working. In recent years we have increasingly also been assisting companies with their long-term digitalization initiatives, which generally also go hand in hand with a change in culture.
Because digitalization cannot be sustainably implemented without digital leadership.
Your work includes thinking your way into complex target groups and an endless array of different realities. How do you learn to do that?
It was not without good reason that we have built an interdisciplinary team that is focused primarily on clarity in our complex world: We concentrate on the benefits to the respective target groups, distill the essentials and recommend effective measures to implement successful change. A basic requirement that each one of our employees and partners must possess is empathy.
Without empathy it is impossible to effectively support change
And that includes the ability to actively listen and consistently adopt the right change in perspective. The rest can be learned.
What is on your current reading list, or is there an author you particularly appreciate?
To maintain the necessary overview in our fast-moving times, I rely on the reading app Blinkist. And when the summary of a non-fiction title appeals to me, I make sure to get my hands on the unabridged version. At the moment I am reading the works of Yuval Harari, such as “A brief history of humankind” and “Homo Deus”.
To end with, is there a personal motto, an inspiring quotation or an experience you would like to share with our readers?
Yes, indeed. The personal motto I live by is this:
In the end what matters most is
how well did you live
how well did you love
how well did you learn to let go.